Ramadan is the holiest month for any Muslim. It was during this month that the Quran was revealed to the Final Messenger of Islam, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). It was also during Ramadan that Salaah (prayer) was revealed to the Prophet.
Ramadan is the month of fasting. During this period Muslims abstain from all sorts of food, drink and any activity deemed improper. The month is used as a sort of cleansing period for the body and a rejuvenation of the soul. During Ramadan the Angels descend upon earth to shower people with the blessings of Allah.
Mosques are filled with the faithful coming to listen to the recitation of verses from the Holy Quran. Ramadan starts with the sighting of the new moon. As Islam prescribes this has to be done with the naked eye. Members of the Crescent Observers Society gather at various places around the country to scan the horizon for the sighting of the new moon. In Cape Town many people gather at places such as Three Anchor Bay on the Atlantic seaboard as well as Signal Hill to look for the new moon. Once the sighting has been confirmed it is relayed to members of the Muslim Judicial Council whose president makes the announcement that Ramadan is upon the Muslims and the fasting period will commence the following day.
During the month of Ramadan Muslims are encouraged to pray more, do more for their fellow brothers and sisters in the form of giving alms to the poor as well as increase their knowledge on the religion. Introspection and enlightenment are key words for Muslims in Ramadan.
Laylatul Qadr (Night of Power) is found on an odd night during the last ten days of Ramadan. It was on this night that the Quran was revealed to the Prophet via the Angel Gabriel. The night holds special significance for Muslims because the rewards of prayer are said to equal that of a thousand nights.
Ramadan in South Africa is a unique experience. The Muslim population here may number only 2 million but they have a big influence in the country. For South African Muslims, the concept of Ramadan has been inculcated from an early age. Ramadan is a month for those who believe in the concept of One God, Allah and the message of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).